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A source for Bowers Studio updates, technique demonstrations and entries covering topics such as inspiration, career experience, preparing for publication, industry observations and whatever else seems appropriate at the time.
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By: Tim Bowers
Blog: Tim Bowers Art Blog
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, book illustration
, buddy's bedtime battery
, children's book
, christina geist
, kids books
, oil painting
, painting process
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A new book just hit the shelves, last week. Buddy's Bedtime Battery by Chirstina Geist (published by Random House) is my latest book and I want to take you behind the pages to see how the project progressed.
It's always exciting to get the first printed books in the mail. After months of a studio full of art boards in progress, wet paint and gallons of coffee (not part of the painting process but very necessary), the final product is a welcome payoff. Buddy finally arrived!
Now, let's look at how Buddy arrived. After reading the story manuscript and creating sketches for the characters, a full length book dummy was created. When the book sketches were finalized, the painting process began.
I created a production line of boards with images of each page. I taped the edges with low-tac tape to keep that area clean and white. Then, an underpainting with brown acrylic paint was washed (thin layers) onto the boards. I usually do this when the final art is created with oil paint. The acrylic and polymer layers sealed the paper board from the oils and gave me a good (light and dark) value study to follow.
At this stage, the studio was full of artwork covering every flat space to be found. I have a drying rack for storing work in progress but I like to see everything laid, side by side.
Here is the title page. The towel area on the left was used for copyright and publishing information. The title was placed on the wall, above the bathtub. Notice the pajamas are visible, just below the towel. I often use elements and story props to hint at what's coming on the following page(s).
Here is one of the illustration spreads. One of my favorite images of the book.
This was my table, somewhere under the shingles of drying illustrations. The images were at various stages of completion so Buddy's hair looks really dark on the bottom image, etc. I worked on several paintings at a time and all art started to finalize toward the end of the process....which is also called..."the deadline" (If all goes as planned). It was a fairly long process and sometimes hard to see the end when spending days painting little parts, adjusting colors and adding detail. But eventually, it all came together and a package with the final art of Buddy's Bedtime Battery traveled to Random House.
Then, months later, I get to see the book on NBC, being read to millions of TV viewers. How COOL is that? So exciting! ...So surreal! ...Yay, Buddy!
...deep breath...now, back to the drawing board. :)
I just finished the artwork for an upcoming book, FOOTLOOSE by Kenny Loggins. The book is being published by Moondance Press/ Quarto Publishing Group. I'm really excited about this one and I think a lot of people are going to be putting on their dancin' shoes in October. The original song (FOOTLOOSE) has been re-written to become a fun story that takes place after hours, at the zoo. The art is full of animals, color, texture, fun and a whole lot of DANCIN'!
Plus, while painting these illustrations, I listened to Kenny's Return to Pooh Corner
CD. Pure magic. I usually don't work directly with the author but I spoke to Kenny about his vision for the story. His input made the story telling more complete.
So, this October...
"EVERYBODY CUT FOOTLOOSE"!
By: Tim Bowers
Blog: Tim Bowers Art Blog
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, book illustration
, children's books
, Devin Scillian
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A big box of shiny new books landed on my doorstep. Memoirs of a Parrot is the fourth "memoir" book, written by the very talented Devin Scillian and published by Sleeping Bear Press.
|"Yay, new books!"|
When I read that a parrot would be the main character, I had to choose an African Grey parrot. I have fond childhood memories of my grandpa and his African Grey, named Chico
. I chose a Hyacinth Macaw as the other parrot in the story. Mostly because of the color. I live in Ohio and Devin Scillian lives in Michigan, so it just made sense to use Ohio State (scarlet and grey) and Michigan colors (maze and blue). Plus, my wife's family is from the state up north (we're a "blended" family).
|A drawing that I did in High School of my grandpa and his parrot, Chico.|
Also, the main character (human) in the story plays a ukulele. I said, "hmmm, I need to get a ukulele (as reference) and begin my career as a ukulele rock star". Then I met Emily Arrow, a true ukulele rock star, so I bought one. Now I need to start practicing my ukulele licks
|"Hey, I think that I need a ukulele."|
Anyway, you must take a look at Memoirs of a Parrot
. It's got parrots, ukulele players and a very funny story.
|End papers from Memoirs of a Parrot.|
Thank you, Heather Hughes, Felicia Macheske and Sleeping Bear Press.
Now, back to the drawing board. -Tim
By: Tim Bowers
Blog: Tim Bowers Art Blog
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, children's book
, Kenny Loggins
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One of my newest projects is to illustrate a book, written by Kenny Loggins. He re-wrote the song, FOOTLOOSE, as a kids song and the book will have a CD in the back so readers can read along, follow the story with illustrations and dance to this great Kenny Loggins song.
Acrylic paint on a gessoed bristol board.
Here are two finished interior pages.
Here is the final art for the cover and end papers. The CD (FOOTLOOSE song) will be placed where the moon is positioned, inside the back cover. So, the moon will be the CD.
The new song sounds great. Kenny did a fantastic job of adding a kid spin to the original version. This is a lot of fun but I have a hard time painting, while dancing. Believe me, you'll be putting on your dancin' shoes, too!
I'm in between children's book projects and have a few days to work on miniature paintings. Here is the latest mini.
|Prairie Dog with selected frame.|
I think the title will be: Prairie Dog
. It was painted with acrylic paint and is 3x4 inches. I started the painting last January as a demonstration piece at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art (on the campus of St. Petersburg College in Tarpon Springs, Florida).
|Painting demo for Miniature Art Society of Florida (MASF).|
|Working from photo reference. |
I purchased the magnifying visor for painting miniatures but they just didn't work for me... returned them and went back to a hand-held magnifying glass.
I hope to finish a couple more miniatures in the next few months. I'll need a few more "mini" breaks.
Here is a sneak preview of my newest book, in progress. The title is BEEP! It's Bedtime
by Christina Geist, to be published by RandomHouse. Like many of my other books, I started with an underpainting in acrylic paint, followed by a couple of coats of matte medium. Then it's time to slap on the ole' oil paint.
Each book project requires about twenty pieces of art and some of them are very time consuming if there is much detail involved. A book takes several months of work and somewhere in the middle of the process, I start to feel a little overwhelmed. I usually paint in a production line sort of way, mixing a few colors and hitting several paintings with that paint.
Back and forth, from one painting to the next. Hours turn into days and days, into months. I'm lucky to know what year it is. Anyway, I'm getting close to the finish on this book and all of the paintings that seemed incomplete for so long, are now starting to come together.
I'll show more when everything is finished.
By the way, it is still 2015, right?
I just received a letter from Dolly Parton. One of my books, Not Your Typical Dragon has been selected for the 2015 edition of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program in the US and Candada.
This is so cool! They get selected books into the hands of thousands of kids. What a great service! Dolly Parton ...thank YOU for inspiring children to "Dream More, Learn More, Care More & Be More"...SA-LUTE!
One of my childhood favorite book characters will also be in the show. Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
. My painting is an illustration of me as a young boy and my dog, named Scat
This illustration is from the book, titled: Speak!: Children's Book Illustrators Brag About Their Dogs (compiled by Michael J. Rosen, Harcourt Children's Books,1993)
The show ends July 5th so go when you won't need the sled dogs.
Here’s a peek at my newest picture book.
|Sketch for cover design.|
|Detail of cover art in progress.|
I recently finished a new book, Pirate’s Lullaby- Mutiny at Bedtime, written by Marcie Wessels (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2015).
Here are a few early pics of the process…sketches, etc.
|Pencil sketches for pirate boy character.|
|Sketches for pirate dad character.|
|Very rough pirate heads for reference (super sculpey).|
|Pirate head in different positions and lighting.|
|More heads in different positions and lighting.|
|A final illustration spread with reference sheets.|
|Everything is started but a lot of painting ahead. Oil paint on canvas (acrylic underpainting).|
I can’t wait until next year’s Talk Like a Pirate Day.
I spent Saturday, in Cincinnati at the Books by the Banks 2014. Here is an overview of the event-
Books by the Banks: Cincinnati USA Book Festival is an annual celebration of books and reading that takes place every October in downtown Cincinnati. The day-long festival, which is free and open to the public, features national, regional, and local authors and illustrators; book signings; panel discussions; and activities for the entire family to enjoy.
It was a great day of book signing, seeing old friends and meeting new friends. There were kids with really cool looking painted faces. I almost jumped in line for a total face and head painting...but, changed my mind. When will I ever grow up?
Here are a few pics that were taken...
|This would be me and the great Marc Brown. Wow, this pic is a keeper!|
|I made two new very talented friends, Michelle Houts and Melissa Guion. Their table was filled with chocolate baseballs and penguins. And books, of course! |
Now, I'm back in the studio, coffee in hand, ready to paint some skunks and chipmunks...sure with I had a few of those chocolate baseballs.
...back to the brush.
Another school year is starting, which usually means that the classroom bully is back in business. This can put a damper on the school year for some unfortunate students. But, here are two examples of bravery that come to mind.
First, an illustration from my college days, illustrating the story of David and Goliath. Goliath was a big bully, for sure.
|David and Goliath (or, Dave and John)|
This is an illustration that I painted, using my room-mates as models. They were both, excellent artists and good sports, when it came to posing for reference pictures. When an art student is pulling an all-night, last minute rush to complete something for class, class-mates become excellent reference material (many thanks to Dave Groff
and John Jude Palencar
for this one).
I'm not condoning violence or the sling shot response but it did work out pretty good for David. Nobody likes a bully.
The other example of bravery is Knuckleball Ned
, who stands up to the bullies and saves the day in one of my newest books, published by Dial Books for Young Readers
The story was written by R. A. Dickey
Overview:Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey creates a funny anti-bullying picture book with an adorable baseball character that kids will love
Ned the baseball is very nervous on his first day of school. Everyone else seems to know where they belong, but not Ned. He isn’t a fastball or a slider, and the Foul Ball gang makes fun of him for the way he wobbles. When they do something particularly dastardly to another student, it’s up to Ned to come to the rescue with his unique abilities. Not only does Ned realize he’s a knuckleball, but he discovers that he can be a hero, too!
|The Foul Ball gang.|
|Knuckleball Ned saves the day!|
So, here's to the little guy, the pushed around kid, the student who "wobbles"...
there's a brighter day, ahead. Be brave, be yourself and hang in there!
... (wobbling) back to the drawing board.
I just returned from a trip to a local store and saw aisles of Christmas stuff on display. IT'S AUGUST! What happened to Christmas...AT CHRISTMAS TIME? Is it me or is it way too early to start thinking of Christmas?? Way, way too early! Oh, wait a minute...
|Memoirs of an Elf by Devin Scillian, published by Sleeping Bear Press.|
A couple of packages were just delivered to my door. Wow! You'll never believe what was packed in those little boxes. Advance copies of my newest children's book!
|Texting: "Time to fly..."|
|Halfway around the world.|
It's never too early to think about books.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!
It's that time of year, again. The first day of school starts this week for a lot of area schools. To get back in the groove, I'm reaching for my copy of Cool Dog, School Dog written by Deborah Heiligman.
I took a trip to the zoo last Sunday morning. I took my camera as usual, thinking that I'd get a few reference shots during the trip. The Columbus zoo is really nice but way too many people to see animals. What? Yep, the zoo is a very popular place but you should plan on getting there really early... maybe on a weekday, when the entire state of Ohio isn't lined up to see an animal. It's great to see so many people interested in wildlife...just not the right time for reference shots. Does anybody else have tips on their zoo visits? When is best? If you live in Ohio, which is your favorite?
|One of the wildest species, know to man. Is he climbing in or climbing out?|
I remember visiting the Cincinnati Zoo as a kid. Very nice zoo. I photographed a lot of animals during high school and did some drawing at that zoo, as a college student. Here are a few of them.
Have a wild week, kids!
Back to the drawing board.
Last weekend, I thought about going fishing. This is as close as I got, to a lake. Another miniature painting was started and I could almost smell the cool lake breeze, hear the water lapping against the boat and see the bobber, riding the ripples on the lake.
Anyway, my plan is to start several miniature paintings over the next month or so, then finish them as time allows. I really need to work hard to meet my miniature painting goals, for the year.
I did a few quick sketches of the cat characters and then went to a final painting. I've been adjusting the final drawing, as I go.
The first sketch on the board (above) was too human-like. The arms were too long and shoulders were too high. I was getting too far from cat-like bodies.
The arms still feel too long. I need to refine the proportions until they feel right. This was my weekend fishing trip...minus the fish...and the trip.
Oh, well. I might get out on the lake, next weekend.
I started another miniature painting over the weekend but had to put it on hold, for now. My newest children's book sketches have been revised and are waiting for approval. I'll start the final artwork, this week.
|The Call- background roughed in.|
Although the miniature work is small, the amount of time it takes to render the fine detail is as much or more than my bigger paintings.
|The Call- in progress.|
|The Call- main figure roughed in...detail, next.|
This fox will have to wait... The Call
is on hold.
Today, I'm starting another miniature painting. Here is a sketch for the newest idea.
|sketch for "The Call"|
My goal is to complete six miniatures, this year. This is the first chance in a long time, that I've had to work on these little gems. Monday, I'll get back to my newest children's book...pirates. I'll fill you in on that, later.
...now, back to the tiny brushes.
A sad day.
I just received some good news...and bad news. Last night, my Hot Licks Bluesfest poster design was approved (that's the good). This morning, I received the news, Johnny Winter had passed away (that's the bad), yesterday, in Switzerland. He was 70 years old.
I was really looking forward to meeting him. Johnny Winter was the first big concert (Hara Arena, Dayton, Ohio) that I attended in the mid-70's. I was in High School and his album, Still Alive and Well
was burnin' up the record player.
Prayers for the Winter family.Bluesfest
poster on hold.
My miniature painting, The Book Drop received the Best of Show award from the Miniature Art Society of Florida and will be included in the 39th Annual International Miniature Art Show.
Over 800 Works of Fine Art in Painting and Sculptures "In Little" from Around the World.
|The Book Drop-3.5"x4.5", acrylic on board. |
Four of my other paintings will also be hanging in the show, which opens next week at the Dunedin Fine Arts Center (1143 Michigan Boulevard, Dunedin, Florida 34698). The show opening is Sunday, January 19, 2014 (noon till 4:00) and will hang until February 9th.
Anyone in the Tampa area should stop by and check out the miniatures. Tiny works... real gems.
A new baseball season and a new children’s book….ahhh, spring is here. The first printed samples of Knuckleball Ned crossed home plate, this week. Knuckleball Ned by R.A. Dickey will take the mound in local bookstores, next month and I’m excited. Thanks to my friends at Dial for putting together a great team and Rubin Pfeffer at RPContent for catching such a great project for me. I tried to create artwork that was looser than my other books, a bit more splashy, with brighter color and loads of fun.
I worked on Crescent Premium Watercolor board with acrylic paint. Backgrounds were painted with broad colorful acrylic washes, then the characters were painted with more detail. Finally, the characters' baseball heads were masked and airbrushed to get a little more dimension.
|The baseball glove and ball were not part of the package...added for effect. :)|Dickey may be known for his pitching but I think he may have hit this one out of the park. Knuckleball Ned is a sure home run!
“R.A. Dickey is one of the coolest athletes I’ve ever met.” — George Vecsey, The New York Times
"Dickey, with an assist from Karounos, creates a sweet, sympathetic character and presents an earnest, heartfelt message." - Kirkus Reviews
"The clear, lively writing and nice pacing make this a good addition to the canon of antibullying books that make their point without being message driven. Bowers adds to the fun...his cartoon acrylic paint illustrations effectively capture Ned’s wobbliness and make the pages come alive with motion." - School Library Journal
Here is the latest children’s book project. I can’t say much about it but I will say that it involves a few elfies. I’ll explain, later.
You might guess the subject by the artwork, seen in my elfies….er, I mean selfies.
Let me be the very first to wish you a Merry Christmas, 2014.
More project updates, to come...
Ho-ho-ho…from the stu-di-o!
I just returned from a book signing at the IRA 59th Annual Conference in New Orleans. Many thanks to my friends at Sleeping Bear Press. Amy and Audrie were in high gear to pull everything together during the show.
I finally met author, Denise Brennan-Nelson, who joined me to sign Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo. Denise is very funny and overflowing with great story ideas. I hope we connect on another book project in the future.
Before my book signing, I went undercover into the Scholastic Book area and managed to meet two of my Ninja brothers, Dav Pilkey and Dan Santat. Its pretty obvious that Dav and Dan have had more experience in Ninja action posing...I'll have to ask them for a few pointers.
The flight home was a bumpy ride. Storms were popping up all over but above the clouds was a beautiful place to be. I shot a few pics of the amazing clouds, escorting us back to Ohio.
I just received a beautiful BC Book Prize certificate from Canadian author, Dan Bar-el.
Dan wrote Not Your Typical Dragon
, which I illustrated for Viking Books. Our title was one of five "outstanding illustrated works for children", selected as a finalist for the Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize.
|Sketch for back cover of book.|
Thanks to Dan Bar-el
for a great story, Viking for bringing it to readers and the BC Book Prize
judges for selecting Not Your Typical Dragon
for this award.
|This year's idea sketches |
with the last two years artwork in the background.
It's that time of year, when I start thinking about creating the artwork for Granville's Hot Licks Bluesfest. This year, the headliners are: Johnny Winter and Rory Block, two super talented blues giants.
I found some really cool reference photos and started working with those, keeping as far from the exact photo as I could (I don't want to get a letter from some photographer's copyright attorney). I kept getting nowhere. The sketches were dull, something was missing. I wasn't getting what I wanted. It was driving me crazy. There were some "O.K." designs but this is the Hot Licks Bluesfest...O.K. wouldn't cut it!
Then, I realized that I was too focused on the reference photos. I kept forcing the poster design to conform to the pictures. They were preventing me from finding a great solution to the poster design.
I put everything away and started over, trying to capture an overall energy in the composition. After I got a descent design, I could find or construct some photo reference to support it. Plus, this wasn't suppose to be a Johnny Winter or Rory Block poster. It's a Hot Licks Bluesfest poster. Although I like to include something that relates to the headliner, it isn't a portrait.
Finally! I started to see something that I liked. The sketch on the left seemed a little too country. It's the Blues-fest...not Country-fest.
|Thumbnail (idea) sketches approx. 1.5 x 2.5 inches.|
Then, from the thumbnail sketch, I enlarged the design and blocked in the shapes
|Note to self: |
Remember to keep it simple. Focus on big shapes instead of detail.
Detail will come later.
Then it started to feel right. It had some energy. It had some burn and despair...it's the Blues, baby. And, I could finally stop singin' the Blues Poster Blues.
|Sketches were done on tracing paper so that I could refine the drawing and add more detail on each layer.|
|Final sketch, ready to submit for approval. |
The space along the left side is for sponsor logos.
So, I'm back on track...ready to get to it! This week, I start the final artwork.
I'll keep you posted.
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I just finished the artwork for this year's Hot Licks Bluesfest. I took a few pics during the painting so that I could show the in progress stages.
First, I blocked in the shapes over my drawing with acrylic washes (skin areas and guitar) and painted in the shapes that I know were going to be very dark, almost black (sky, shirt and shoes).
Then, I started to add detail to the character's face, trying to capture the moon lighting.
From the face, I kept working outward, adding more detail to the hands and guitar. I kept the light source in mind and decided where and how it would hit each part of the image.
You can still see some of my pencil drawing under the acrylic washed areas.
After the hands and guitar are mostly completed with detail, I started to work out the affect of a second light source. The words- "HOT LICKS"(in bright orange-red) will be placed along the backside of the character.
Here, you can see the warm light hitting the hands, guitar neck and body, etc.
When most of the image was finished, I went back to the top area and added some stars and stylized steam, rising from the image.
Small detail was added, sweat on the player's face and warm light on the underside of his hat and ear. I love adding little touches like that to a piece...kind of an afterthought but it works.
Well, there you have it! I still need to work on the type...stay tuned!